Archive for the ‘Labor’ category

That Post Show — A Little Squirt of Dopamine

January 25, 2012

Last week, I participated in another episode of Kanen Flowers’ “That Post Show” podcast — this time covering the skill-set you’ll need in order to succeed in the real world of the professional editing room. The episode is entitled “Squirt of Dopamine” and also features Mike J. Nichols, Paul Zadie and, of course, Kanen. I think you’ll find it interesting listening. Check it out via iTunes or get it from the shownotes page.

IATSE Health Plan

November 15, 2011

Preparing for upcoming contract negotiations, the IATSE has been reaching out to the membership for feedback about our health plan. I went to a town hall meeting near LAX last night hosted by IA President Matt Loeb and VP Mike Miller, and I have to say that it was one of the best large-group IA meetings I’ve ever been to. The attitude, openness and intelligence of the leadership was terrific, and I was proud to be a member of this organization.

Our current contract expires at the end of July, and the chief challenge is going to be the medical plan. For details, we heard presentations by John Garner and David Wescoe, who articulately laid out some of the issues. By many measures we have one of the best plans in the nation, with lots of options, high quality care, and low out-of-pocket costs. But the plan is projected to need a lot of money over the next three years. Solving that problem will undoubtedly be contentious, and members would be well advised to learn as much as they can about it. There will be another meeting tonight in Burbank. You can also watch videos from previous meetings on the IA website.

Year End Showbiz Wrap Up

January 4, 2011

Hollywood production workers have been hit hard by this recension. People are struggling to find work and many have lost their homes. I’ve lived through a few recessions here, and for the most part they’ve been okay for Hollywood. When money gets tight, people want escape, and Hollywood provides it. But this time was different. Was that situational (the de facto strikes) or a long-term trend, caused by the shift of audiences to the internet and videogames?

Three articles in yesterday’s paper offer a good overview. In general, 2010 wasn’t as bad as it might have been, and there were some strong bright spots. Total TV viewing was up 1%, to the highest level in history. (The average American is now watching 35 hours a week.) TV ad rates were way up after a long dry spell, that’s very good sign for anybody who works in television. Theatrical attendance was down a bit but box office was flat, a result of higher ticket prices. And it was a big year for documentaries, though they didn’t do so well in theaters. Over all, the big draw was escapist fantasy — and that looks like a good, old-fashioned Hollywood recession. This year, that’s something fondly to be hoped for.

Interview Clips

November 2, 2010

Larry Jordan, editor of features and television and the founder of 2pop.com is building a new web site, with lots of interesting content: Hollywood Reinvented. He’s posted six short clips from an interview he did with me recently. Subjects include:

  • How has digital technology changed the style of editing?
  • How does someone learn the craft of editing?
  • How have tools like Final Cut Pro effected the editing craft?

The full interview will go up soon, but you can see the sample clips by registering on the site. You’ll also find a fascinating interview with Avid co-founder Bill Warner covering the company’s very early days.

Editors and Assistants Panel

November 2, 2010

Last month I participated in a well-attended panel discussion on the evolution of the editor/assistant relationship. A nicely edited video from the session has been posted by the sponsor, the post house AlphaDogs. Expertly moderated by Debra Kaufman, the panel included me, Diana Friedberg (co-author of the new book, Make the Cut: A Guide to Becoming a Successful Assistant Editor in Film and TV), and our terrific assistants Peter Mergus and Carsten Kurpanek.

The conventional wisdom today is that it’s much harder to move from assistant to editor than it was when we cut film, but that wasn’t the point of view of this panel. If you’re hoping to move up the ladder, this video (and Diana’s book) should be very helpful. Check out the video here.

Editors Lounge is a wonderful meeting place and resource, hosted once a month in Burbank by AlphaDogs‘ founder Terry Curren.

Why Hospital Visits Cost So Much

February 10, 2010

Two articles on opposite sides of the NY Times’ business page yesterday neatly frame the crisis in medical costs. In the first, we learn that HCA, the largest hospital corporation in America, was taken private in 2006. The investors in the deal put up $5 billion and borrowed about $28 billion more. It’s not clear what added value that move brought to patients, but now, instead of paying back all that money, the new owners are paying themselves a fat multi-billion dollar dividend. Who pays for that? Patients, that’s who, in the form of higher prices. (Details are here: Shareholders Deciding a Dividend.)

On the other side of the page we learn that hospitals now spend $35 billion a year on patients who don’t have insurance. Who pays for that? The patients who do. That’s probably one reason why hospital bills are designed to be incomprehensible, with obscene prices like a $75 charge for a 35 cent disposable scalpel (true story). (Details are here: Bills Stalled, Hospitals Fear Rising Unpaid Care.)

I assume that people reading this blog fall into one of three groups: members of a union (whose medical costs go up every year and threaten to detonate every new contract), people who buy their own health insurance (at exorbitant prices because they’re not part of a risk pool) and people who get along without insurance (and end up using the emergency room the rest of us pay for). Is this system working for any of us?

Preloaded Production

August 28, 2007

The LA Times ran a big article this Sunday about how the studios, in a re-enactment of what happened in 2001, are ramping up production now, so they’ll have as many pictures as possible in the can when the SAG contract expires next summer. (The WGA contract ends in October but will be extended to line up with SAG’s.)

Why? Well, the article never answers that question. Instead, it seems to imply that it’s so self evident that studios would want to get as much material shot as possible before a strike, that the most basic question of all need not be asked.

Maybe it’s obvious, but to me the huge elephant in the room does bear mentioning, namely that producers are trying to get stuff in the can because it gives them an advantage in contract talks. If I’ve got a slate of pictures shot, you can strike for as long as you want dear actors and writers — it won’t affect me at all. So preloading production is essentially a negotiating tactic, a way to work the system for your advantage, and get what you want at the negotiating table. It’s not illegal, and it’s certainly not surprising, but it bears mentioning in an article that brags about how it’s based on “two dozen” interviews with producers and agents — and apparently with zero labor leaders.

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